Gays, Lesbians Call for Salvation Army Boycott

The gay and lesbian community is calling for a boycott of The Salvation Army and its annual holiday red kettle drive because of the organization’s stance on gay and lesbian relationships. Bill Browning, editor in chief of a blog titled The Bilerico Project, wrote in a post that, “If you care about gay rights, you’ll skip their bucket in favor of a charity that doesn’t actively discriminate against the LGBT community.” What’s more, a Facebook page titled Boycott the Salvation Army had generated more than 3,100 “Likes.” The page cites the stance of the organization based in Alexandria, Va., that a marriage consists of one man and one woman. The page refers to The Salvation Army as “an evangelical church promoting conservative Christianity and anti-gay politics.”

“The Salvation Army and the gay community are never going to come to an agreement on the topic,” Maj. George Hood, national community relations secretary for the organization, told Christian Today. Hood told the news organization that the boycott is unfortunate because its clients, including members of the gay and lesbian community, will be hurt. “If people refuse to give, it’s the poor and people in need that will suffer,” Hood said.

Pastors Charged after Telling ‘Gays’ About Sin

Two veteran street preachers in Houston are facing a bench trial for spreading the biblical message about homosexuality – and other sins – on one of their favorite corners for preaching in Houston. Their hearing will be in Houston Municipal Court, which is run by Barbara E. Hartle, who, according to the Dallas Voice, is listed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund as “one of only a few out members of the Texas judiciary.” She was appointed to the position by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, identified by the Los Angeles Times as “the first lesbian to head a major American city.” The fact that the ministers were handcuffed and ticketed, with their signs and shofar confiscated for a time, sent a chilling message about free speech regarding religion and homosexuality. Technically, they were ticketed for having signs thicker than one-quarter inch (they say they were 3/16ths and that they’d been approved beforehand), and for having a sign not made out of wood (their shofar is a ram’s horn style). A private video revealed that the first officer on the scene told them they weren’t doing anything wrong. A few minutes later, however, officers approached the preachers, grabbed the video camera, wrestled them to the ground and put them in handcuffs.

  • Persecution against all things Christian is rising steadily and will continue to do so

Senate Approves $662 Billion Defense Bill

Ignoring a presidential veto threat, the U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a massive, $662 billion defense bill that would require the military to hold suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaeda or its affiliates, even those captured on U.S. soil, and detain some indefinitely. The vote was 93-7 for the bill authorizing money for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs in the Energy Department, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Reflecting a period of austerity and a winding down of decade-old conflicts, the bill is $27 billion less than what President Obama requested and $43 billion less than what Congress gave the Pentagon this year. The Senate’s version of the defense bill still must now be reconciled with the House-passed measure in the final weeks of the congressional session.

The Bill creates the power for the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. Under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867the legislation will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supported the bill. Arizona Senator John McCain also was a strong supporter of the bill.

  • Another key component for the eventual control of U.S. citizens under increasingly socialistic and anti-Christian rule

Occupy Encampments Cleaned Up

White-suited sanitation workers removed tons of tents, bedding, personal belongings and garbage from what was once a grassy lawn surrounding City Hall on Wednesday after a massive police operation evicted Occupy L.A. protesters and arrested nearly 300 people. A raid that began just after midnight by 1,400 city police officers, most wearing helmets, shields and other tactical gear, cleared the park of hundreds of people who had been camping there for two months. In Philadelphia, dozens of police patrolled a plaza outside City Hall after sweeping it of demonstrators early Wednesday and arresting 50. Protesters later marched from the city’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square to police headquarters and called for a “victory march” for Friday or Saturday. Police in recent weeks have broken up encampments in such cities as Portland, Ore., Oakland, and New York. Demonstrators are still at it in Boston, Washington and other cities.

Railroad Strike Averted with Agreements, Extension

The threat of a costly national railroad strike during the busy holiday season has been averted after the freight rail industry settled labor disputes with two of its unions and agreed to extend talks with a third. Without the agreements, the railway unions could have begun striking as early as next Tuesday, when a federal “cooling off” period was set to expire. Retailers warned that a rail strike would cost businesses and consumers $2 billion a day and prove especially damaging during the most important shipping season of the year. The agreements late Thursday with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association came just hours after Republican House leaders said they would move to vote Friday on emergency legislation to prevent a work stoppage.

32 Tons of Pot Seized in San Diego-Tijuana Tunnel

One of the largest pot busts in U.S. history has netted authorities more than 32 tons of marijuana in a major cross-border tunnel linking warehouses in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, according to immigration officials. The 600-yard passage was equipped with a hydraulic lift, electric rail cars, a wooden staircase and wood floors from one end to the other. The tunnel was lighted and ventilated, and ICE’s head investigator in San Diego says it is tall and wide enough for comfortable movement inside. Mexican soldiers found the entrance on the south side of the border at a Tijuana warehouse after the U.S. opening was discovered Tuesday.

Guns a big Seller on Black Friday

In addition to the sleek flat-screen televisions, smartphones, computers and cut-rate designer clothing, Black Friday’s shopping legions seized on another hot item for 2011: guns. Gun dealers flooded the FBI with background check requests for prospective buyers last Friday, smashing the single-day, all-time high by 32%, according to bureau records. The checks, required by federal law, surged to 129,166 during the day, far surpassing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008. The actual number of firearms sold last Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer. Larry Keane, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said 25% of the purchases typically involve first-time buyers, many of them women.

Senate Rejects Payroll Tax Extension

As expected, the Senate defeated competing proposals to extend the payroll tax cut holiday in a pair of late night votes Thursday. The failed Senate action now sets the stage for more serious talks between Democrats and Republicans before Congress heads home for the holidays in less than three weeks. Both sides see letting the current tax holiday—which reduced the payroll tax to 4.2% in 2011—to expire as politically unpalatable. President Obama called for halving the payroll tax while charging those making more than $1 million a 3.25% surcharge to pay for it. The GOP backed legislation called for extending the current payroll tax holiday for the year and reduce the federal deficit by $111 million. More than two dozen of the Senate’s 47 Republicans voted to kill an alternative plan backed by GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in a vote that exposed a wide split among the party over renewing the existing 2 percentage point payroll tax cut.

Government Shutdown Looms For Mid-December

Another potential government shutdown could loom if Congress isn’t able to scramble soon and cobble together a big omnibus spending bill to keep the government open past Dec. 16. The current stopgap measure expires then. And only three of the 12 annual spending bills which run the federal government have been approved and signed into law. House and Senate appropriators are putting together a massive, omnibus spending bill which they hope to have prepared by Dec. 15. This would not be an interim bill, better known in Capitol Hill-ese as a Continuing Resolution, or CR, which funds government in increments while the regular appropriations bills continue to be negotiated. This bill would allocate money for the remainder of currently unfunded government programs through Sept. 30, 2012. House appropriators are resistant to attaching any extraneous issues to this omnibus bill … such as unemployment insurance (UI), a payroll tax holiday, the alternative minimum tax or a “fix” for Medicare

Economic News

The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level in more than two and a half years, as employers stepped up hiring in response to the slowly improving economy. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 8.6% last month, from 9% in October. The rate hasn’t been that low since March 2009, during the depths of the recession. Employers added 120,000 jobs last month. Still, 13.3 million Americans remain unemployed. And a key reason the unemployment rate fell so much was because roughly 315,000 people had given up looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose for the second straight week, a sign the hiring market is continuing to recover at a slow and uneven pace. The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 402,000. Applications had been below 400,000 for three straight weeks. Still, applications would need to stay below 375,000 consistently to push down the unemployment rate significantly.

U.S. factories grew in November at the fastest pace since June, helped by a jump in new orders and production. The manufacturing index rose to 52.7 last month, up from 50.8 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates an expanding economy. Manufacturing has grown for 28 straight months, according to the widely followed index.

Retailers are reporting strong sales gains in November, boosted by a discount-fueled spending binge for the start of the holiday shopping season last weekend. Retail sales for the four-day holiday weekend, starting with Thanksgiving Day, rose 8.7% from a year earlier. For the four weeks from Oct. 30 through Saturday, Nov. 26, retail sales rose 4.7% to $125 billion, compared with a 2.6% increase last year.

On Black Friday, payments made with credit cards rose 7.4% from a year earlier. During the recession, the use of credit cards declined as cost-conscious consumers switched to debit cards and cash for their purchases. Now, though, the pendulum is swinging back, analysts say. While overall consumer debt continued to decline in the third quarter, the number of applications for credit rose for the second consecutive quarter.

Most employers that cut back on matching 401(k) contributions during the recession are now reinstating the match. Of 260 companies that discontinued or reduced their 401(k) matching contributions in the downturn, 75% have now restored them. Most companies, 74%, reinstated at the previous level, while 23% restored at a lower level and 3% actually boosted their match.

Britain

Schools were closed and libraries shuttered across Britain on Wednesday as hundreds of thousands of government workers walked off the job to protest debt-reducing proposals that affect pensions and pay. Workers ranging from garbage collectors to teachers to diplomats shuffled in picket lines and held banners. Border agents also walked off the job but airports still functioned. Thousands of people marched through London streets in a noisy but peaceful march, blowing whistles and carrying placards. About two-thirds of England’s 21,700 state-run schools were closed. Labor unions said the strike was the biggest in more than 30 years with 2 million in the streets. Marchers were protesting measures to cut public-service pensions proposed by the government of Prime Minister David Cameron to deal with Britain’s massive $1.5 trillion debt.

Iran

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told BBC Radio on Thursday that he would press his fellow EU diplomats to intensify diplomatic and political sanctions on Iran in response to its renegade nuclear program, adding that the recent assault on the UK embassy in Teheran was not the cause of the new sanctions drive but has merely hardened Britain’s resolve to confront the Islamic Republic. The UK shut Iran’s embassy in London and expelled its staff on Wednesday, dismissing Teheran’s apology for the storming of its diplomatic offices in Teheran and saying that it wouldn’t have happened if senior Iranian officials had not given their consent. That assertion was lent credence on Wednesday when Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani excused the attack by declared that it was the result of “several decades of domination-seeking behavior by Britain.” Meanwhile, France, Germany and the Netherlands have recalled their ambassadors to Tehran for “consultations” and Norway closed its embassy, although the Norwegian staff have not yet been evacuated.

Iran’s third largest city, Isfahan, was rocked Tuesday by a massive explosion. Isfahan is home to one of the major uranium enrichment facilities in Iran and also to an experimental nuclear reactor. Questions were immediately raised as to whether this was a stealth Israeli attack designed to slow Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons. This follows an earlier explosion at a key munitions base that has not been fully explained. Perhaps Israel is setting the stage for an imminent major attack.

Russia

Russian General Nikolai Makarov said in RIANOVSTI, “NATO’s eastward expansion or an attack on Iran by the U.S. and Israel could cause Russia to enter the conflicts. The General said, ”The possibility of local armed conflicts along nearly the whole border has increased dramatically. In certain conditions, I do not rule out local and regional armed conflicts developing into a large-scale war, including using nuclear weapons.” Russia is no longer a poor nation. It has built up $516 billion in foreign reserves, which is the world’s third largest, after China and Japan. Russia is now the world’s largest oil exporter, putting it ahead of Saudi Arabia.

  • Ezekiel 38 predicts a last days’ invasion of Israel, led by Russia, Iran and other Middle Eastern nations. The Ezekiel 38 invasion is also known as the War of Gog and Magog. It will occur as part of World War III which will usher in the anti-Christ, global governance and the 7-year Tribulation.

Iraq

The U.S. military returned its biggest base in Iraq to the government on Friday, a huge compound near Baghdad airport that housed the American war operations centre and hosted a captive Saddam Hussein before his execution. The handover of Victory Base marks a major milestone in the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as Washington consolidates its presence in Baghdad at its huge embassy on the Tigris River in the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone. Only 12,000 troops remain, down from a peak of about 170,000 at the height of the war. Almost all of the remaining forces are due to leave Iraq by the end of this year, except for a small contingent of under 200 attached to the U.S. embassy.

Two separate attacks killed 17 people on Thursday in Khalis, a northeastern Iraqi province that was once an al-Qaeda stronghold. The marketplace car bombing and the assault on the home of an anti-al-Qaeda militia leader came on the third day of a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in advance of the withdrawal of American troops at the end of the year. Khalis, a Shiite enclave 50 miles north of Baghdad, is surrounded by the largely Sunni province of Diyala. The province was a hotbed of al-Qaeda in Iraq during the height of the country’s violence in 2004-2007.

Pakistan

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri said the group is holding an American aid expert kidnapped three months ago in Pakistan. Al-Zawahri said in a video message Thursday that Warren Weinstein would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Weinstein was abducted by armed men from his house in the eastern city of Lahore on Aug. 13.

Syria

On the heels of action taken by the Arab League, Turkey and European Union, the Treasury Department on Thursday announced new sanctions against Syria and urged more pressure against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Under the terms of the sanctions, Americans are banned from any dealings with the Military Housing Establishment, a Syrian government-controlled company that provides financing to the regime, and Real Estate Bank, which handles borrowing for the government as well as key government and military leaders.

Egypt

Egypt’s ultraconservative Islamist party plans to push for a stricter religious code in Egypt after claiming surprisingly strong gains in the first round of parliamentary elections, a spokesman said Friday. Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Salafists appear to have taken a strong majority of seats in the first round of Egypt’s first parliamentary vote since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, a trend that if confirmed would give the religious parties a popular mandate in the struggle to win control from the ruling military and ultimately reshape a key U.S. ally. The showing in Egypt – long considered a linchpin of regional stability – would be the clearest signal yet that parties and candidates connected to political Islam will emerge as the main beneficiaries of this year’s Arab Spring uprisings.

Libya

After repeated delays, Libya announced the lineup for a transitional government that will draft a constitution and prepare the country for elections. Those who set up the interim government said they tried to ensure that the demands of regional and political factions were met. But there’s one group that says it remains seriously under-represented in the new government: women. Of the 20-odd new ministers, two are women — and they hold the traditionally female roles of health and social affairs. In the scores of government councils created in cities and towns to replace those of the toppled regime of Moammar Gadhafi, hardly any women are present. “We’re really frustrated there’s not more female representation,” said Salha Saddik Soussi from the Libya Women’s Alliance.

Nepal

Two years after an explosion shook one of the biggest Catholic churches in Nepal and killed three people, the underground group that orchestrated the attack claimed responsibility for another bomb blast in front of the office of the United Mission to Nepal, a leading Christian charity in Kathmandu, Compass Direct News reports. There were no casualties, but police found leaflets at the site asserting that Nepal should be a Hindu state. On the same day in a nearby predominantly Buddhist village, local residents assaulted two brothers for leading worship services at their home. Meanwhile, the government is due to put forth a new draft of its constitution Wednesday, which says that although people would have the freedom to follow any religion, conversions would be prohibited. “With conversions still deemed a crime … we feel that the draft retains the bias towards Christians,” said evangelical pastor Chandra Shrestha. “This is a direct violation of our fundamental right to practice whatever religion we want.”

Weather

Several overturned semis on a Utah highway. Hundreds of thousands without power in California. A wind gust reaching 123-mph in Colorado The powerful winds that tore across Western states Thursday created a path destruction that closed schools, left neighborhoods with a snarl of downed trees and power lines, and prompted some communities to declare emergencies. The storms, described as a once-in-a-decade event, were the result of a dramatic difference in pressure between a strong, high-pressure system and a cold, low-pressure system, meteorologists said. This funnels strong winds down mountain canyons and slopes. In Southern California, the storm knocked out electricity to more than 350,000 utility customers. A state of emergency was declared in Los Angeles County, where schools in a dozen communities were closed. In heavily damaged Pasadena, schools and libraries closed and a local emergency, the first since 2004, was declared. Officials said 40 people were evacuated from an apartment building after a tree smashed part of the roof.

The waters of the mighty Danube are so low that dozens of cargo ships are simply stuck, stranded in ghostly fog or wedged into sand banks on what is normally one of eastern Europe’s busiest transport routes. A lack of rain has triggered the worst drought in decades for this time of year, dropping river levels to record lows and sounding an alarm in parts of central and eastern Europe. Power supplies are running low in Serbia, drinking water shortages have hit Bosnia, and crop production is in jeopardy in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The Czech Republic is at its driest since records began in 1775.

Federal officials say the Arctic region has changed dramatically in the past five years — for the worse. It’s melting at a near record pace, and it’s darkening and absorbing too much of the sun’s heat. The Arctic acts as Earth’s refrigerator, cooling the planet. The report, written by 121 scientists from around the world, said statistics point to a shift in the Arctic health in 2006. That was right before 2007, when a mix of weather conditions and changing climate led to a record loss of sea ice, from which the region has never recovered. This summer’s sea ice melt was the second worst on record, a tad behind 2007.

A NASA satellite found that 430 billion metric tons of ice melted in Greenland from 2010 to 2011, and the melting is accelerating. Since 2000, Greenland’s 39 widest glaciers shrunk by nearly 530 square miles. For two straight years, all three major passages through the Arctic have been open in the summer, which is unusual. This year’s temperature is roughly 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than what had been normal since 1980. What’s even more troubling to scientists is that there’s been a record darkening of the normally white Arctic land and sea. White snow and ice reflects solar energy, but a melting darker Arctic in the summer absorbs that heat.

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